First of all, let me say how lucky and blessed all sixteen of us are to have been granted this wonderful cruise experience and second of all you have just observed the most expensive family photo known to man. The shipboard photographers hold the most observable, most documentable evidence that the sixteen of you really appeared, acted and participated singly and collectively in this memorable experience. This being said, they hold the money key. They can charge you the sun, the moon and sky and they do. For each copy collectively and or individually, is $39.95 per sheet. On each sheet is a pose with two-wallet size of each. There are sixteen of us. For formal night alone at $39.39 each is big money, so will you do the math? Who are they kidding? The thing is they are not kidding. You pay and you pay big or you do not receive any visual documents of your trip. You see the family formal night photo don’t you? We took brownie camera shots, but they do not do justice in comparison to the gorgeous shots taken by the ship’s photographers. Plus let me add that when one of you is clicking, you are not in the photo. All and all what I am trying to say is they have you by the earlobes.
Traveling with a family of sixteen uniquely individualistic people has its challenges. In spite of the challenges we melded and bonded on this trip and became whole. For any amount of money you can name, we would not have been able to buy this perfect experience from beginning, middle and end. It just happened by the grace of God and the forces that bind that the memories; the melding and the bonding are still in place. I am not saying that a family cruise will solve all of your problems, it could even exacerbate them, but for us it was heaven sent. If you think this is for you I know a great and wonderful travel agent, Glenda, at Frosch Classic Cruise and Travel, who will work out all the kinks for you; there are kinks and tricks to putting this all in place and she will do it as graciously for you as she did for us. You too, may just have all the luck and marvel we had, so let me know, I will give you her particulars and she will wave her magic wand over your exciting departure, your splendid adventures and your safe return.
Brilliant idea: Some members of the group stopped at Best Buy on the way to the ship and bought sets of Walkie Talkies for each family. We were able to easily keep tabs on each other and join up more easily. We decided to adopt code names for the members of our group. We are not quite sure we are finished, but for now, meet: Bright Light, Jackpot, Wonder Woman, Starfish, Queen Bee, G-Man, Morning Glory, Food Snob, Pita, His Majesty, Ladder, Justice, Chipmunk, Bandage, Dream Girl and Maybeline. So guess who’s who?
Ports of Call:
After two days at sea on a nice ship, but one that needs to be put in for refurbishing, we docked in Puerto Vallarta. As the sun began to rise and the ship was secured, we took a walk on the promenade deck. The first thing you see is Wal-Mart, but beyond that, Puerto Vallarta is a bustling town full of traffic and people coming and going. The town center has maintained cobblestone streets and most of the homes and buildings look unfinished and rough. There is a reason for this state of the structures. If you finish your home or building you have to pay taxes and if you are still working on it you do not. Would you finish construction on your building? Neither does anyone else. The total look of the town is bumpy, course, ragged, frayed, tattered, and shabby, but you get to keep a number of thousands in tax money in your pocket.
Each member of our family was able to procure a souvenir or two from Puerto Vallarta, the unfinished, town of cobblestones, nearly paved and dirt roads full of unfinished homes and buildings. My souvenir was a small watercolor painting given to me by my son-in-law, Ladder. The people we encountered are friendly, seemingly happy, sweet and good looking. We bargained with a few vendors, which is the national way of tourist business.
We all loved arriving in Mazatlan because we have been waiting for the treasured sights that abound in this Mexican seaside town. We saw the sights in town and out of town. After a visit to the high divers, we visited an area in the heart of Mazatlan where they have every conceivable type of store in a huge intense market. Included are some photos of the meat stalls. As you can see I was intrigued by the preparation of meat from the whole animal to it’s parts and pieces.
After visiting this fantastic market, we had lunch on an inviting sandy beach, followed by a trip to the Golden Zone to a visit some of the beautiful tourist hotels. We had time to spend at a gorgeous hotel offering beach lounging. Activities offered on the beach are: parasailing, banana boat rides, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, and other great water activities. The day passed all to quickly. Mazatlan is a place one must consider for a return visit.
LA PAZ, BCS, MEXICO
We docked a ways from town and all we could see looked like a semi-deserted area in a full desert environment. We did not know what to expect and were anticipating this new experience. What a charmingly beautiful surprise awaited our arrival. La Paz is as beautiful and authentic as it gets. As soon as you leave the deserted dock area, there is an endless array of natural beauty connecting land and sea, and then, you come to the little town built on a hill with all you will ever need and full of places to explore. Needless to say, independently, the 16 of us spent the day in La Paz. We even had a little time to spend on the beach looking into the bluest, greenest water, in competition with the world’s most beautiful water scenes.
CABO SAN LUCAS
Cabo San Lucas is beautiful. It sits on the south end of the Baja Peninsula. Whatever you are looking for, you will find in Cabo. The hospitality of this town surrounds you the minute you step into its charm. The harbor is beautiful and very busy.
Our family went Swimming with the Dolphins. Everyone had a wonderful time in Cabo!
Cabo presents world-class golf courses, world-class hotels, boats of all nature in a classically dazzling harbor, shopping galore, fabulous food and sport fishing. I mention sport fishing because we had an opportunity to visit Cape Marine, a store owned by Emily and Harold’s son, Phillip. Who are Emily and Harold? They are our friends. They have a Condo in Cabo and come often from Pacific Beach to visit their son Phillip and family. We had afternoon tea together and walked around the harbor until it was time for us to board our tender back to the ship.
Lastly, and by no means least, I must let you know that lady luck did not desert Skip. He DID win the Blackjack tournament on the ship with the usual T-shirts and a hefty monetary prize as well. I note this because as you now know, he has won every blackjack tournament on every cruise we have ever taken. He wonders if it is skill or luck? What do you think?
In conclusion, this is what we achieved and how I appreciate the wisdom and effort it took all of us to get here: Taking sixteen of your family members on a cruise has many epic tasks. It is like opening a million-piece puzzle set, dumping the pieces out on your dining room table and beginning to put the pieces together. At first it is slow going. The pieces are stubborn and just a few come together leaving the field open. More and more as you work on it, the pieces slowly but surely come together, and the puzzle is formed. That’s exactly how our cruise came together. Putting the puzzle parts together was work, love, and respect. The lessons learned are observable and hidden.
The addition to our lives and the putting of the puzzle together involved the shedding of our old selves, the good, the observable, the hidden and the unexplainable. Then came the adding of the individual collections together; created the forming of a cohesive family. The divisions are individual and deep seated. They remain with each individual piece, but added together makes the unit complete. Pieces get moved, shuffled, re-arranged making room for new additions and or subtractions, but the nucleus remains an important hub and as the puzzle forms and comes to fruition, it is ready for the glue and the shellac.
You ask, what did we do as we worked on pulling all of the million of pieces together? We ate, ate, ate, and ate some more. On sea days, we had breakfast; brunch and lunch, tea, snacks, dinner and some went off in search of late night munchies. There were daily shipboard activities presented all day long to whet the intellectual appetites as well. We began to move and wander together like a school of fish.
At each port there were many shore excursion suggestions: We collectively visited a tequila factory, snorkeled, participated in a Mexican Fiesta, learned to make tortilla’s, swam with the dolphins, rode distances into the countryside, discovered towns, visited authentic villages, shopped, danced, cooked, observed sea lions, viewed sculptures, creative and awesome art work and learned to appreciate the creativity and diligence involved in hand made goods; met new friends, visited with old friends and soaked up the warm Mexican sun. Let me end this much too long elucidation that traveling with a family of sixteen uniquely individualistic people of varying age ranges is not easy, not hard, but it had its challenges. Mostly we got to know the pieces of the puzzle better, and paved the way for a future of closer family ties.
Okay you skeptics, you say it can’t be true and it isn’t totally, because , we had to come home to real life scenarios. Real life trumps everything else.